The 11,500-foot-high volcano erupted last Saturday, killing at least 31 people. Since then, the region has seen a series of earthquakes and earthquakes, some felt as far away as the Rwandan capital of Kigali, 65 miles from the volcano in Virunga National Park.
“There have been 92 earthquakes and earthquakes in the past 24 hours. Only 4 were felt by humans, the rest were picked up only by instruments,” said the military governor of the North. Kivu, Constant Ndima.
It comes as CNN captured stunning new aerial footage of the crater of Mount Nyiragongo volcano during a helicopter flight on Sunday morning.
Dario Tedesco, a volcanologist who has studied the volcano, told CNN that a fracture in regional faults continues to contribute to seismic activity.
Tedesco said the light gray ash plumes rising from the volcano’s crater, seen in CNN footage, indicate the crater’s bottom is collapsing. “The summit that was frozen now descends … it comes in slowly, not violently, nothing to worry about.” He said it’s black ash that indicates an explosion, so the gray ash poses no imminent danger.
Tedesco, who has been studying the volcano since 1995, told CNN the volcano had passed the peak of seismic activity, but he couldn’t rule out the possibility of another eruption. He said the team needed a few more days to determine if people could return home safely.
About 400,000 people were evacuated from the “red zones” of the city of Goma and its surroundings. Goma, the capital of the province of North Kivu, is located on the shores of Lake Kivu, on the border of the DRC with Rwanda. According to official projections from the United Nations, the World Bank and others, the city has a population of approximately 670,000. However, a number of non-governmental organizations in the region claim the population is closer to one million.
“Let’s be patient, this is the most important thing, we don’t need to rush,” Tedesco warned of the people returning home.